Dozens of Tory MPs to rail against HS2

Dozens of Tory MPs are set to rebel against controversial HS2 at a key vote tonight, as a further damning report was released today.

Some senior Tories are to lead efforts to block HS2 in the House of Commons
Some senior Tories are to lead efforts to block HS2 in the House of Commons

Around 40 Conservative backbencers are due to break ranks with David Cameron over the £50 billion high-speed rail line – but Lichfield MP and former party vice chairman Michael Fabricant said that figure could be as high as 100 if Labour MPs opposed the scheme.

Mr Fabricant, who will join Staffordshire MPs Jeremy Lefroy and Bill Cash in voting against the scheme, said: “If Labour was against it then the rebellion would be a lot bigger than 40.

“The Government whips advised Number 10 that without having Labour support, the legislation wouldn’t get through.

“And I believe very, very clearly from all the consultations that we did that if Labour wasn’t supporting it the legislation wouldn’t go through.

“It’d be double the amount of rebellion that we’ve got now. People are saying, ‘Well, if it’s going to go through anyway why use up our stocks with the whips?’

“So probably only 30 or 40 will rebel, but I can tell you 80 to 100 people have really serious doubts either about the principle of HS2, including its costs, or, as in my case, the implementation of HS2.” It comes as a new report published today by the Institute of Economic Affairs cast further doubt on the economic benefits championed by the Government.

The report, entitled ‘Failure to Transform: High-Speed Rail and the Regeneration Myth’, said similar boasts were made for Britain’s first high-speed line – HS1 in Kent, which cost an estimated £11 billion at today’s prices.

It states the line failed to revive the East Kent economy and some parts of the region have similar rates of unemployment to depressed industrial cities in the North.

The think tank also cast wider doubt on the benefits of faster rail links by citing the case of Doncaster in South Yorkshire.

It argues that Doncaster had ‘enjoyed a fast rail link’ to London for several decades, with its first 125mph ‘high speed train’ service introduced in the late 1970s and electrification of the route completed in 1991. Despite that, the town was ranked 42nd worst out of 318 English boroughs in the 2010 Index of Multiple Deprivation.

Mr Fabricant is among the senior Tories who have tabled amendments in an attempt to block the Government’s plans.

He wants the Coalition to bring forward a cheaper and more environmentally ‘sympathetic’ route and has warned the line as set out in the High Speed Rail Bill is ‘significantly more costly’ than it need be to reduce damage to the environment. The full HS2 line is set to carve a 450-mile swathe through rural Staffordshire from Lichfield to the east of Stafford as it heads to Crewe.

Comments for: "Dozens of Tory MPs to rail against HS2"

charlie17

It seems that at last some of MPs are understanding that HS2 will not really make a huge difference to the Midlands and North. Years ago when the Channel Tunnel was being built a BRS Transport expert said to me that we now needed to be able to send a container by rail from Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Glasgow and other centres overnight to Europe non stop. This would dramatically reduce the number of trucks on the road and speed up the movement of goods exported to Europe. Eddie Stobart is using rail but has to change trains, I believe, incurring extra cost and time, to go to Europe, so let's use the money to do something to help everyone north of Watford into work and not just those that will be able to pay to use the High Speed rail for travel to and from London.

arthur.blurton

When has the last government built a railway line out of London to Edinburgh & Glasgow & Cardiff & Swansea & across the UK in its own power for the travelling public serving all major towns & cities across the UK & when did the last government ever design or develop a high speed line operation or debate or discussed about one in their own town or city & if we were going to be affected with one under construction to expand the tourist industry & the economy across the UK & the aviation industry & the biggest airports in the UK with bigger railway stations also being developed & revolutionised & more capacity on the rail network being available for freight traffic & operators to expand their operations in future would a high speed line bypassing from Buckinghamshire to Kent be a good idea for bypassing London from Ashford for more direct rail services across the UK & do we see all see a train running through all major cities at high speed everyday now like London & Birmingham & Manchester in our public lifestyle & a nonstop operation being designed & developed for better transport hubs & sleeper operations also running through the night which could also be developed if they were also considered more wisely & sensibly & do we also stand on aircraft taking off when also flying on aircraft from an airport everyday like we do on the tube network & underground network everyday & rail network everyday now since it was first built by George Stephenson when the rail network opened!